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Larapinta Trek 2018

Trekking the incredible Larapinta Trail is an adventure on many people’s bucket lists.

Simpsons Gap, Northen Territory, Australia

 

Standing on ancient escarpments and gazing out upon the ochre-coloured landscapes of Central Australia, following Aboriginal Dreaming tracks and trekking beside one of the world’s oldest river systems is surely an adventure of a lifetime.

Our friends at Melanoma Institute Australia would like to invite you on their Outback Trek adventure in September 2018.

Not only will you experience a trek along one of Australia’s premier walking tracks, but you will be supporting life-saving research at Melanoma Institute Australia.

 

 

A view of Glen Helen Gorge on a clear winter’s day in Northern Territory, Australia

 

Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world. The good news is that 90% of melanomas can be successfully treated if detected early.

However, in the other 10% of cases, life-threatening spread will have already occurred.

More than 1,800 Australians will die from melanoma this year alone and it kills more young Australians (20-39 year olds) than any other single cancer.

Research at Melanoma Institute Australia has made significant progress in developing life-saving treatments, but support is still needed as there is still no cure. No-one should die from melanoma, and you can help make a difference while doing something that you love.

 

Mt. Sonder, West MacDonnell National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

 

By taking part in this unique adventure you’ll pave the way for new research to improve melanoma treatment, and ultimately find a cure.

Visit melanoma.org.au to find out more.

David’s Lane Cove River Minimal Impact Training walks

David will be leading two Minimal Impact Bushwalking Awareness Walks in Lane Cove National Park and this webpage shows the planned route. To book for these walks go to: Bushwalking NSW Minimal Impact Bushwalking Training Events

The walk will start at the Koonjerie Picnic Area in the Lane Cove National Park:

The walk will parts of the Great North Walk on the east side of the river after crossing at the Lane Cove Weir:

The walk goes back across the river near Christie Park where the river is not very wide or deep, and there are many rocks creating the crossing:

The walk will finish at the Macquarie Centre:

From here a 545 bus can be caught back to the starting point or Chatswood Station.

 

Chytrid Fungus

Chytridiomycosis is a disease caused by the Chytrid Fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), which has been causing sporadic deaths and other times a 100 per cent mortality rate to different species of frogs.

So where is this fungus?

According to research, the Chytrid Fungus is now widely distributed in Australia in water or wet soil and has caused six species of frog to become extinct.

In particular, the fungus is along the Great Dividing Range and adjacent coastal areas in the eastern mainland states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, eastern and central Tasmania, southern South Australia, and south-western Western Australia, and there is no known way to remove it.

In NSW, 22 species, more than one quarter of the total NSW amphibian fauna, have been diagnosed with the disease. There are 3 frogs at a high extinction risk in NSW, identified by their low population, ongoing state and predicted decline of population size. I’ve listed them below:

 

Spotted Tree Frog (Lioria Spenceri)

Southern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne Corroboree)

Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne Pengilleyi)

 

You can find out if these frogs are in your favourite walking area by using https://www.frogid.net.au/learn. Just plug the frog’s English name in the search bar for some info, pictures and frog sounds.

There are various fieldwork programs in place made from volunteers, frog experts and enthusiasts. The Northern Corroboree Frog Captive Breeding and Release Program is one example; the frogs take 5 years to mature, so breeding, raising frogs followed by their release and monitoring involves a timeline of over 8 years.

While there is not yet evidence of being able to remove the disease, some research has found that the frogs are building an immunity to the fungus, so with long-term methods like the Captive Breeding Program, our NSW frogs still have a chance to adapt.

As bushwalkers, we can play our part too.

If we’re sloshing through creeks near where frogs hang out, we might want to look at brushing up on our Solutions and have a think about how we clean our gear before and after the walk.

We can help mitigate controllable threats, such as habitat degradation, and preserve our wild places!

For more info, see the links at the end of this article.

 

 

 

Notes:

http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/279bf387-09e0-433f-8973-3e18158febb6/files/c-disease_1.pdf

http://www.publish.csiro.au/wr/WR15071

http://www.frogsafe.org.au/disease/chytrid_bg.shtml

http://www.fats.org.au/

https://frogs.org.au/frogs/search.php

Advice to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities from the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, including locations:

Spotted Tree Frog (Lioria Spenceri)

Southern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne Corroboree)

Northern Corroboree Frog (Pseudophryne Pengilleyi)

The Sutherland Bushwalking Club Adopts ‘Royal’ Tracks

Have you ever noticed an overgrown trail or track in your favourite National Park?

Ever wondered if you could do something about it?

The Sutherland Bushwalking Club is one of the clubs that has, and they continue to do so.

The Sutherland Bushwalking Club may be unique, having proudly contributed almost 600 hours of combined effort on various track projects, on over 12 separate work & planning days in what they have dubbed their ‘Adopt a Track’ project.

The Club’s success is a demonstration of what a Club does for its community, and an example of how a Bushwalking Club and the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) can work together to make parks available to all bushwalkers into the future.

Click to see the Royal National Park on Google Maps

The Club focused on the Royal National Park and initiated talks with the local ranger. Naturally, the agreement required lengthy negotiations with NPWS to meet government regulations and still be effectively managed.

It was eventually worked out that Sutherland Bushwalkers would ‘adopt’ The Burgh Track in the Royal National Park and help maintain it. At the time, the Burgh Track had become badly overgrown, blocked at many points by fallen trees and subject to erosion because of blocked drainage.

There were certain stipulations involved: NPWS determined which track and which part of that track; and a Group Co-ordinator was required to discuss with the Head Ranger track guidelines, cut heights, being responsible for walkers staying on the track and reducing trip hazards. There were also a non-members attending from Bushcare Australia, as well as youths from the Duke of Edinburgh Program.

NPWS supplied most of the tools, such as saws, secateurs, loppers and clippers.

Click for larger image of the Burgh Track

The Club provided their unbridled enthusiasm and experience, expert bushwalking gear, tender loving care and muscle power.

The first day was 10 August 2015 with several members meeting at Garrawarra Farm. Armed with tools mostly supplied by National Parks and Wildlife Services, the Club members walked the track and cleared it as they walked.

Since then, the track has now been fully cleared and looks like the best maintained track in the Park. The hardest work has been clearing fallen trees, but now only sporadic visits, checking culverts and looking out for storm damage are needed to monitor its condition.

The Club continues helping to this day, and more recently NPWS have requested they work regularly on the Uloola Track, between Audley & Uloola Falls every three months; which they access by driving down a fire trail.

The Club’s ‘Adopt a Track’ project now consists of a one day event every three months, from 9am to 12:30 and then finishes up with lunch in the bush. The event is run by a passionate leader who loves the park, and is a great way for Club members to meet and get to know one another, including new members. Those less experienced or mobile lend a hand with other tasks such as lopping smaller branches, cleaning track signage or even supplying a little something for morning tea.

If you’d like to join in the fun, contact The Sutherland Bushwalking Club via their website: http://www.sutherlandbushwalkers.org.au/

You can also head out and enjoy these great walks for yourself:

Sutherland Bushwalking Club is not alone in assisting NPWS and Councils with track maintenance. If your own club also does track maintenance, we’d love to hear from you. Just click here to send us an email.

Visit The Royal National Park

Tragedy on The National Pass

All bushwalkers will have been saddened by the news of the recent tragedy on National Pass at Wentworth Falls.

NPWS contractor, well respected rock climber, canyoner and bushwalker, Dave Gliddon was killed, and two of his colleagues were badly injured. They were undertaking maintenance work on a rockfall hazard on the National Pass in the Blue Mountains.

Our thoughts go out to the injured men, and the families of all three men at this difficult time. Sadly, one of the contractors has lost a leg, and we fear more bad news to come.

The Springwood Bushwalking Club has been investigating how to help those affected by this terrible accident, and are encouraging their members to donate to The Dave Gliddon Fund, which has been set up by some of his friends on the gofundme website: https://www.gofundme.com/the-dave-gliddon-fund

David Churches, President of the Springwood Bushwalking Club, has asked us to share this option with the many other bushwalkers across the state who would also like to assist.

11th December, 2017 Update:

David Gliddon was extremely well remembered today at Leura and later at Katoomba; with a large number of NPWS staff in present their Parks shirts.

 

Weeds, pests and diseases

While we have a strong ethos of ‘treading lightly’ when out in the bush, it’s all-too-easy to unwittingly spread weeds and diseases that can kill wildlife and destroy wild places.

Weeds, pests and diseases are major threats to Australia’s native plants and animals. They can hitch a ride on muddy hiking boots, in wet fishing gear or even hidden on the dirty rims of your car.

So what are these weeds, pests and diseases affecting NSW?

Here are the main ones we are looking out for, and they can be contained and prevented from spreading by all of us doing our part. Tread lightly!

– Chytrid is a fungal disease blamed for frog extinctions here and overseas. It is transmitted between frogs or through contact with contaminated water.

– Phytophthora is a root rot that destroys native plants. It is spread in mud and soil on walker’s boots, bikes and vehicles.

– Didymo, also known as ‘rock snot’, has yet made it to Australia but can be transported on wet fishing gear. It has devastated riverbed habitats in New Zealand.

– Myrtle Rust is a fungal disease which affects new growth in eucalyptus, melaleucas, bottlebrush and other Myrtaceae plants. The yellow/orange spores are easily spread on clothing, gear and vehicles.

– Weeds radically alter ecosystems, smothering and outcompeting native plants and robbing wildlife of food and shelter.

– Intestinal bugs picked up travelling don’t always show symptoms in some people but can spread by poor toileting near creeks and severely affect other people and wildlife.

 

Bushwalking NSW has just endorsed the latest version of the “Keep your gear clean in the wild” brochure by the Invasive Species Council. Stay up to date on the invasive species that are threatening our favourite bushwalking tracks by checking out their website www.invasives.org.au.

Frogs and Sunscreen

 

If you’d like to enjoy a swim on your bushwalk, come prepared to keep the water clean for our frog-life by having your skin free of insect repellent, sunscreens, soap and fragrances.

This summer, many of our walks will involve swimming holes, creek crossings, canyoning, kayaking and lilo trips, so we’re bound to come close to our froggy friends, although you might not spot them.

They’re also very sensitive, and absorb chemicals through their skin to their own detriment.  The Fleay’s Barred Frog are one example of a frog species threatened almost to extinction attributed to sunscreen and insect repellent.

Amphibian skin is unique, being physiologically active and able to absorb air, water and electrolytes. We don’t hear much about frogs – experts are still puzzling over their unique anatomy.

Chytridiomycosis is one example of a disease that affects amphibians worldwide, but how it does so, and its true impact of frog populations is not certain. Some species of frogs seem unaffected by such pollution while other species have been declared extinct.

Before we take on the outdoors, we can think about the skin products we intend to use. Even skin products and cosmetics that are biodegradable with natural ingredients, while certainly a good thing, are not environmentally friendly to our frogs.

Instead, we can take care of our skin and the environment by using a wide-brimmed hat, or a cap with a neck flap. Take a long-sleeve rash guard if you’re susceptible to sunburn while swimming.

Also, look at alternative technologies for keeping mosquitos, ticks and leeches at bay such as doubling up on socks, use of gaiters and long-sleeve, loose fitting shirts.

Insect-repellent clothing

Insect-repellent clothing does not provide complete protection on its own, and begs the question – will it affect our environment? This technology uses a pesticide called Permethrin, which has been known to come out in water. Tests have shown the pesticide rapidly breaks down (rather than clump together like other chemicals), and is biodegradable in 1-16 weeks – but it is highly toxic to insects and fish.

Before we get lost down the rabbit hole, it seems the main thing is we be mindful with the ‘slop’ part of ‘slip, slop, slap’. Think twice about sunscreens or insect repellent before you dive into the water this summer, and choose your walks wisely!!

 

Sources:

http://www.alertdiver.com/Sunscreens-Coral-Bleaching

http://www.wildswimmingaustralia.com/sustainable-wild-swimming/

http://emag.bushwalk.com/BWA201612.pdf

https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/0cc789ea-5551-4d6f-ace3-5952c9cd0a5f/files/tsd06fleay-barred-frog.pdf

http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/279bf387-09e0-433f-8973-3e18158febb6/files/c-disease_1.pdf

http://healthcenter.indiana.edu/answers/insect-precautions.shtml

https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/repellent-treated-clothing

http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedSpeciesApp/profile.aspx?id=10537

Save Western Sydney Bushland

Dear nature conscious bushwalkers,

Keep in Touch

Is your club doing something to protect your local environment or some place further away? Perhaps you are concerned about a nature protection issue near you and would like to spark discussion about it or see if BNSW can help take action on it. Send me an email in this case. I love receiving mail. I’ll endeavour to respond to you quickly. My email is conservation@bushwalkingnsw.org.au. Please get in touch.

Save Western Sydney Bushland

Do you enjoy a refreshing green patch in Western Sydney once in a while? Would you like to in the future? The NSW government is warning us that future opportunities may be limited due to housing expansion and development prospects in this area. Read ahead to find out more about what’s going on and how you can ensure that important areas are saved.

The Total Environment Centre (TEC), powered by the wonderful Corinne Fisher and her dedicated volunteers and associates, keeps the world up to date on the state of development around Sydney and its surrounding area. Today, TEC has a warning that will make a bushwalker’s blood boil:

The NSW Department of Planning is right now developing a strategic ‘sustainability’ plan for 7 chosen areas in Western Sydney. This will determine which bushland areas will be developed and which will be saved. The Local Government areas to be affected are: Campbelltown, Camden, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly.

As a keen bushwalker, I have certainly been walking in these areas and I suspect many of our clubs run trips around there two. There are some stunning adventures to be had, and furthermore some ecosystems that are clearly brimming with life, flora, fauna and fungus that does not deserve to be bulldozed to oblivion.

Please HELP.

TEC and Bushwalking NSW invite you to take a stand and give a voice to these voiceless ecosystems at their forum on Thursday, November 16th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Western Sydney Leagues Club in Leumeah (details below), however here are a couple of suggestions.

  1. PLEASE RSVP at this link, on the TEC website. They need to know how many people will be coming because there is limited space in the venue.
  2. Why not bring a contingent from your club along by making it a club event?
  3. Maybe you could bring some of your conservation minded friends or an open-minded family member.

Event details:

When

November 16, 2017 at 6:30pm – 8:30pm

Where

Western Sydney Leagues Club (Gardenia Room)
10 Old Leumeah Rd
Leumeah, NSW 2560
Australia
Google map and directions

TEC Contact Person

Corinne Fisher
cfisher@tec.org.au
02-92115022

 

Post by Sierra Classen, Bushwalking NSW Conservation Officer

Are you a Biosecure Walker? Part 3: Teaching Others

This post follows a 3 part series beginning with Part 1: The Risks, where we looked at weeds, fungus or bugs in the bush, and terms like Biosecurity. In Part 2: The Solutions we looked at awareness, the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015, our responsibility for our environment as well as actions we can take now. In this article, we look at the club level and teaching others.

 

So is every bushwalker scrubbing their car tires, or picking seeds from their clothing and depositing them in a ziplock bag? Probably not, so how can we influence our walkers to be biosecure?

Luckily, not every walk requires every solution we have mentioned. One thing Sarah discusses is bushwalkers being ‘in sync’ with the area we are walking in.

This means knowing your walk – something our club leaders are experts on already.

“Educating yourself on the potential environmental impacts you might have within a park and discussing the issues and the ways you can moderate your impact helps to make minimum impact bushwalking strategies more commonplace.”

Some interesting tips include:

  • A leader’s box in the car – one with a diluted metho spray bottle and a brush – that can be pulled out before or after a walk will ensure that every walker understands what is best practice.
  • When emailing and organising the walk, include any biosecurity risks and solutions you would like walkers to be aware about.
  • Discuss signage board alerts during the walk. Identify and report possible pests or species by taking a photo and GPS co-ordinates.
  • Identify potential risks and walker gear in your group such as open weave cotton t-shirts.

Luckily, brushing down your boots is a very effective way of stopping weeds spreading! We are hoping to cultivate a practice of brushing down boots to remove soil and seeds before entering a walking trail and when exiting a trail. Our end objective is to install brush-down bays at trailheads, starting with key trails in Kosciuszko NP.”

Lastly, we can get involved. As clubs, we can have our say on Minimum Impact and Biosecurity, engage in weed eradication volunteering, and discuss tips and tricks to make cleaning easy.

Some ideas to facilitate discussion are:

  • Include Biosecurity in Information Nights and Basic Skills Workshops
  • Review the club’s Minimum Impact or Bushwalker’s Code and strategies
  • Add a section on the proposals, walk programs and walk submissions guidelines to include Biosecurity measures
  • Have an information night to raise awareness, using Sarah Fulcher’s power point presentation.

“Discuss some of the issues raised in this article – what people wear, how they collect and dispose of seeds from their socks or tent, boot cleaning and personal hygiene with a view to making small changes in behavior. A walk’s leader with a ‘clean box’ who is mindful about the area being walked in can have a major influence on the behavior of a group.”

Read “Are you a Biosecure Bushwalker?” for further information, links and articles.

Use this presentation for your club: Sharon Fulcher: How can we ‘Leave no Trace’ when bushwalking?

See Arrive Clean, Leave Clean for identifying biosecurity threats, cleaning guides, hygiene checklists and kits.

Learn more about invasive species.

Notes, slides and content courtesy of Sharon Fulcher.

Photos under Creative Commons Licence on Pexel

Hand photo by Marcos Luiz Photograph on Unsplash

Bush Search and Rescue (BSAR) at work

Barrington Tops OPEX.

This annual September search (OPEX) for the missing Cessna plane VH-MDX in Barrington Tops has become a major multi agency training exercise.  Also present were various SES, RFS and VRA units / personnel.

September Callout

For two days in late September Bush Search and Rescue (BSAR) assisted NSW Police in a search for a missing elderly man with dementia.  He had been missing for a number of days in urban bush land near Baulkham Hills.  As always, the areas BSAR searched were tracked (for later download) on our GPS receivers.  Unfortunately, his location is still unknown.

Web page

Web page hosting has generally moved on.  BSAR has used this opportunity to update its web page.  As usual, BSAR still has worthwhile content on GPS, distress beacons (PLB and EPIRB), the Police TREK program for free PLB loan, outback communications and bush safety.

See www.bsar.org.au

Community Involvement

On 7th October BSAR will again be active in safety support for an outdoors event in the Blue Mountains.  Participants in the Hounslow Classic will do challenging ascents as they traverse the Grose Valley from Blackheath.

Among the many recent outdoors events where BSAR has offered safety support is OXFAM TrailWalker.  BSAR provided Safety Response Teams for this 48 hour event.

BSAR uses the outdoors skills of bushwalkers to provide a well-respected community service in remote area search and rescue.  In 1936 the ‘Search and Rescue Section’ of Bushwalking NSW was established.  It is now BSAR.

Guest Author: Keith Maxwell